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The Rundown: March 2, 2012

Kings to Stay in Sacramento

As a sports fan who grew up in Northern California, I’ll say one thing – thank goodness that this:

BAH!

Will not be a reality.

There was much speculation about whether or not the extra year the Sacramento Kings were given in Arco Arena was merely a stay of execution, before the Maloofs took the team southbound to Anaheim. However, the Kings organization and the city of Sacramento reached a tentative deal on February 27 to build a new stadium and effectively keep the team in the capitol city for years to come.

It came down to a compromise between the Maloof brothers and the city of Sacramento, represented by its mayor, former NBA All-Star Kevin Johnson. The financial burden of building a new stadium to house the team in Sacramento had been the main issue in the months and years leading up to the deal. With the current proposal reportedly having the city paying between $200-250 million of the stadium’s estimated $387 million in costs, while the Maloofs agreeing to contribute $75 million, it seems that they have reached a happy medium.

Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson (center), celebrating with owners Joe and Gavin Maloof, was integral in the deal to keep the Kings from bolting to Anaheim next season.

The makings of the deal came down just in time, as the city was given a deadline of March 1 by the NBA relocation committee to come up with something that would show good faith that the Kings could still be viable in Sacramento. Otherwise, serious talks between the Kings organization and the city of Anaheim would likely have resumed, ending in a doomsday scenario for Sacramento. While the City Council will vote on the plan on March 7, it is assumed that the plan should pass with little resistance.

The news is a sigh of relief for a rabid fan base who pleaded with the team and the league to keep the Kings in NorCal. The campaign, dubbed “Here We Stay” by the community of Kings fans in Sacramento, was, at the very least, a sign that the Kings were important to the city.

Once the deal is finalized, the Kings no longer need to worry about where they will be playing next season, and deal with the issues they are having on the court. Currently, they are 12-23, as they face off against their once arch-nemesis Los Angeles Lakers tonight at the Staples Center. While they are starting to come into their own – especially with players like DeMarcus Cousins, Marcus Thornton and Tyreke Evans – they still have a lot of work to do, both on the court and in the trading market. With rookie PG Jimmer Fredette trying to find his way on the roster, the Kings may still be years away from making any noise in the NBA again.

At least, with the new stadium deal, we can rest assured that they will enjoy that success in Sacramento.


Mike Wallace to the 49ers?

As the San Francisco 49ers move on from their heart-breaking loss in the NFC Championship game in January, they look to improve their roster that, admittedly, had its share of deficiencies.

No, I don’t mean him. Geez, give the kid a break.

As their amazing 2011-2012 season proved, the 49ers have many strengths. Their running game, punctuated by RBs Frank Gore and Kendall Hunter, were among the best in the league. Additionally, the 49ers boasted the league’s best run defense, not allowing a 100-yard rusher or a rushing TD until Week 16, an NFL record. Their defense also gave up a mere 14.1 points per game.

However, there was one glaring weakness that had been the 49ers’ Achilles’ Heel all season: their passing game – particularly, their lack of a receiving playmaker beyond TE Vernon Davis. While the offense was built around the run, no receiving threat caught for 1,000 yards in 2011 – in fact, their leading receiver, WR Michael Crabtree, had a mere 874 receiving yards.

With QB Alex Smith entering 2012 the likely starter, he will need some help beyond Davis and Crabtree in the passing game. WR Josh Morgan looked promising as a viable third option before breaking his ankle in a game vs. Tampa Bay last year. As he heads into the free agent market, the 49ers will need another weapon for Smith to throw to.

Enter Pittsburgh Steelers WR Mike Wallace.

As his highlights can attest, Wallace has become one of the most explosive downfield threats in the league. At only 25, and in his third year in the league, Wallace tallied almost 1,200 yards receiving on only 72 receptions, with an average of more than 16 yards per catch. With his big play ability, Wallace has become one of the coveted free agents (albeit, restricted) in the market, and may be exactly what the 49ers need.

This is no pipe dream, either – Wallace has admitted during the offseason that, as his free agency looms, while he would like to stay in Black and Gold, he could see himself playing for either the Patriots or the 49ers. Many in the Bay Area media have predicted that the franchise would go after the blazing-fast wideout.

If Mike Wallace joins the 49ers, you may see QB Alex Smith and the pass offense like this, much more often.

If they could pull off the deal, they would sacrifice their 30th pick in this year’s draft for a deep threat that could finally relieve some pressure off of Vernon Davis, the 49ers’ best big-play receiver. It would also let some pressure off of Crabtree, as his inconsistent play has been a heavy concern as of late, considering he was the 10th overall pick in the 2009 NFL Draft. His presence would loosen up defenses, giving the running game many more lanes to run through.

While the 49ers still have months to make necessary moves, the potential of Mike Wallace on a team that lacked a complementary big-play receiver has excited many around the Bay, and could prove to be a move that could get them back to the Super Bowl.


Wilt Chamberlain’s 100: Can it be done again?

Happy Anniversary to one Wilton Norton Chamberlain.

It was on this day, a half a century ago, that he accomplished a feat that, in the realm of professional basketball, seems impossible to duplicate.

He … had sex with his 100th woman?

On March 2, 1962, Wilt Chamberlain, the legendary center for the then-Philadelphia Warriors, tallied an unheard-of 100 points in a single non-overtime game – a record that still stands today. He played all 48 minutes against the New York Knicks, went 36-for-63 from the field, and went 28-for-32 from the free throw line, in a 169-147 victory. The feat is all the more impressive, in an era before the three-point line was established in the NBA, and with a player who wasn’t very good from the free throw line.

To this day, many doubt that the feat could ever be done again. Lakers G Kobe Bryant has come the closest since Chamberlain’s feat, in a 2006 game vs. the Toronto Raptors, scoring 81 points.

However, I believe if anyone is capable of such a Herculean feat, it would be one man who, at the very least, somewhat shares Chamberlain’s build.

What’s THAT supposed to mean?

Oklahoma City Thunder F Kevin Durant, standing at 6’9″, a lanky build and a 7’5″ wingspan, has enough of a post game and the long range jump shot to have a chance – just the chance – to reach the milestone. While playing with a PG in Russell Westbrook who shoots as much as he does, Durant typically throws up 30 points a night, seemingly without breaking a sweat. His three-point shot looks effortless, and should he grow stronger, he could have a post game just as fearsome.

The only other obstacle for Durant to reach 100, given the opportunity, would be his scoring partner in Westbrook. He would most likely have to relieve the scoring duties to Durant, while playing the traditional point guard role.

Am I saying that Durant will do it? No. But, given the opportunity like the one afforded to Bryant that fateful day in 2006? It isn’t completely out of the realm of possibility.

Until then, let us marvel at the feat that Wilt Chamberlain accomplished, exactly 50 years ago, today. Rest in Peace, Stilt. You will always be remembered.

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